By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Believe it or not, it was just a week ago the Bears were the most confident 2-6 football team ever.READ MORE: 2 Women Carjacked At Gunpoint In Mount Greenwood
All those good vibes went away quickly after a tumultuous week at Halas Hall. The Bears were battered 36-10 by the Buccaneers, then lost guard Kyle Long for the season and receiver Alshon Jeffery for a four-game suspension.
On the Bears go with their struggle of a season, with a trip to New York up next and Sunday’s contest with the Giants.
“Winning fixes a lot, that’s for sure,” quarterback Jay Cutler said.
“We’ll try to rally the troops. It’s going to take more than just me to rally — it takes the whole group to make this thing happen, and the guys in the locker room know that.”
Can the Bears get back on track or will this season continue to spiral? We’ll find out on Sunday in the Meadowlands.
First, here’s what to watch for:
Feed the beast
Jordan Howard has established himself well as the Bears’ starting running back, with four games of 100 yards in his first six starts. Howard is averaging 5.3 yards per carry to this point.
As the Bears look for solutions on offense, they should look no further than Howard. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains needs to establish a better run-pass balance, but he wouldn’t be faulted for running the ball with Howard over and over again.
Howard has shown a great ability of reading the line of scrimmage and hitting the right hole.
“He’s very natural in that respect,” running backs coach Stan Drayton recently said. “He knows when to shift his gears, he knows when to lower his pads, he knows when it’s time to play on contact. That’s something he’s brought to the table.”READ MORE: Man Shot And Killed In East Garfield Park
Pressure, pressure, pressure
Linebacker Pernell McPhee wasn’t shy in making his latest proclamation this week. Watch out, Eli Manning?
“We’re going to tear their ass up,” McPhee said Wednesday. “I don’t care what everybody else did. I mean, we’re going to sack him around. He can throw the ball as many times as he wants, we’re going to sack him. I’m going to make sure of that.”
Pressuring Manning will be a challenge for the Bears against the Giants’ protection, which has allowed the third-fewest sacks in the NFL. Chicago’s pass rush has accounted for 24 sacks in nine games, which is good for eighth in the league.
If the Bears can bring some heat on Manning, they will force the mistake-prone quarterback into uncomfortable situations. New York coach Ben McAdoo would then have to turn to the league’s last-ranked rushing attack and hope to find answers there.
Let’s see if McPhee lives up to his word.
Win the turnover battle
The Bears didn’t give themselves much of a chance in their loss to the Bucs. Cutler turned the ball over four times, and Howard added a fumble of his own. When the game was over, the Bears were blown out and could pin their 5-1 turnover margin as a difference.
Once again, the Bears have struggled to take the football away. Because of this, 2-7 isn’t much of a surprise.
For the Bears to beat the Giants, they simply must win the turnover battle. New York has talented playmakers on offense who can take over the game. The Bears don’t have the kind of defensive backfield to keep Odell Beckham Jr. in check.
Mistakes must come from Manning if the Bears have hopes to win this game. On the other side of the football, Cutler has to manage the game better and protect the football.
The Bears could be staring down a 2-8 start if they fail in these goals.MORE NEWS: Ed's Tech Notes: Apple Cutting Production On iPhone 13, Twitter's New Feature, Drone Delivers Lungs For Transplant